Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Shoot First everybody!

O.K. I was not going to blog today. I really didn't have that much to say. Then this story came across in my e-mail and I just can't help but make a comment. In Daytona Beach, Florida, a young drug dealer was shot to death by another dealer. It should be just another one of those criminals shooting each other, right? We don't seem to care too much about them. Their injuries and deaths, however, do figure into the total number as they also add expense to our health care and legal system for which we all pay. Anyway, read this for yourself and you will see why I had to comment. One criminal shoots another, confesses in a phone call but says he has a concealed weapons permit. Is that an excuse? The family members of the slain man don't seem to think so. It's the shooters' word against that of a dead guy at this point.

Notice that the victim had a gun in his lap, obviously also ready to fire if necessary. The safety was on so he didn't get the chance. I suppose one could say that is self defense on the part of the shooter. It's getting a litte murky here, though. What if the victim didn't have a gun in his lap? Would it still be self defense? Under Florida law, people are allowed to shoot someone if they feel threatened and say it is self defense. It relies on what the shooter says. And, according to someone opposed to this law which passed unanimously (with an NRA representative standing next to Governor Bush as he signed the law) juries used to decide who was guilty or innocent. Now the shooter him or herself gets to decide.

What makes this even worse is that a year ago, the shooter was charged with aggravated battery and shooting a gun in a public place. Charges were dropped last October. There must be more to this case than we are seeing in the article. Why did this man still have a concealed weapons permit? The charges last year should have been enough to revoke his license. So, before knowing all of the particulars, I am wondering if this is actually a case for "enforcing the laws already on the books." In this case, it goes both ways. One law says that the shooter goes free with no consequences for murdering another human being in cold blood. The other says that the shooter had some gun charges against him and was still able to legally carry. Hmmm.

Not that he wouldn't have found a gun anyway. They are easy to find. Dateline NBC did a show last night focused on Chicago's problem with kids shooting kids, called "Faces Against Violence". It was said many times that it was easy for the kids to get guns. The only problem is, no one bothered to say how and where they are getting their guns. Until that happens we are not going to make a dent in the problem. There are places where illegal guns are readily available without background checks. Gun shows for one. Many of the street guns are stolen from dealers or private homes. And then there are straw purchases. See this article from Minnesota Public Radio about cracking down on straw purchases. Enforcing laws does make sense. Why were straw purchasers allowed to break the law and not face federal charges? We all know that these are guns purchased for illegal buyers and then who knows what they are going to do with the guns once they walk out of the store? Sell them to kids on the streets? Sell them to another criminal? Go home and shoot a partner or spouse? Use it in a robbery? Take it across ( or them) state lines and provide guns to someone in a state with stricter gun laws?

So let's enforce the laws on the books. And then, let's look at some of the laws on the books that are actually protecting criminals and drug dealers. To be allowed to shoot someone, even a drug dealer, in "self defense" and get away with it is to put the shooter on the streets again with his concealed carry permit to shoot someone else. It is a cycle that never ends unless we demand that it does. Every victim has a name. Every victim has a mother. Every victim has friends and family. We can do better, for the sake of victims everywhere.


  1. Under Fl law... a person cannot say self-defense IF they were committing a felony during the act – THAT is codified and part of the statute law (hard to argue against it but some don’t even read the law… including the DA). Plus a person with a CCW cannot "carry" in a "place of nuisance" or while committing a felony (the “facts” in the article show that both conditions existed and the DA would have enough reason to bring the case to court). The "stand your ground" law is actually decided by a JUDGE who hears the evidence… and it is an AFFIRMATIVE defense (which means that YOU have to prove you are innocent and not the DA prove that you are guilty). Whatever position one might have about guns… pretty much everything I’ve read in that article shows an administrative/procedural or judgment call issue – and not an issue of “guns”. The attacker could have used a knife or a baseball bat… it still would have been under a “felony” and the permit to carry (if it really was valid) would have allowed him to carry it concealed (YES… FL permits allows for weapons and not just guns while in FL). Plus being charged for a crime is NOT a good reason to deny anyone their constitutional or legal rights… lay the blame on the DA who could not make a case or presented it in a way where a Judge felt compelled to dismiss the charges. Think about it.

  2. The new law codified in Florida Statutes 776.013(3)(2006) states:

    A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity, and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

    This new law expands upon Florida's preexisting castle doctrine and permits one to stand their ground anywhere. Florida Statutes 776.032(1) then holds in pertinent part:

    A person who uses force as permitted in s. 776.012, s. 776.013, or s776.031 is justified in using such force and is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such force...